The Computational Genomics & Technology Laboratory (CGaT) Announces the Sobel Duncan Science for Health in Indigenous Populations (SHIP) Graduate Student Award

Robert Duncan and Annette Sobel

Posted: March 3, 2021

By Irene Gray

The Computational Genomics & Technology laboratory (CGaT) is proud to announce a brand new award dedicated entirely to addressing the significant health disparities that impact New Mexico’s Indigenous populations. Thanks to the generosity of Drs. Robert Duncan and Annette Sobel, the Sobel Duncan Science for Health in Indigenous Populations (SHIP) Graduate Student Award will recognize one PhD student annually who is actively understanding and promoting Indigenous health through interdisciplinary research.

Both Dr. Duncan and Dr. Sobel have dedicated their lives to education, the sciences, and public service, and this gift is the result of their tireless efforts. As the first associate dean for research at the UNM College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Duncan went on to serve as the founding director of the New Mexico Consortium at Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) in 2006, before going on to serve as the vice chancellor for research at the University of Missouri, and then as the senior vice president for research at Texas Tech University.  He currently serves as the President’s Distinguished Chair in Physics at Texas Tech.

Upon completing her residency in Family and Community Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Dr. Sobel went on to serve as a senior advisor to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where she helped solve One Health challenges to include new methodologies for global disease and counter-terrorism surveillance, technologies for humanitarian assistance and disaster management, and early detection and prevention of infectious diseases. She is a retired major general in the Arizona and New Mexico Air National Guards, and a former director of the New Mexico Homeland Security. 

The SHIP Prize is the culmination of their years of service to improving the health and wellbeing of underserved populations. According to Drs. Duncan and Sobel, this award is intended to “encourage and recognize excellence in science that will advance the health care of indigenous populations…This prize involves the life, behavioral and physical sciences, as well as the basic medical sciences which provide the gateway to improved health care.  We are excited to see UNM recognized for its strength in this field of science, and for their commitment to the health of indigenous populations here in New Mexico, and throughout the world.”

Ultimately, their hope is that their gift will not only improve health outcomes among Indigeneous communities but will also serve to bring increased awareness to the groundbreaking research that is being done at UNM. CGaT was the perfect fit for administering the SHIP award because of their extensive connections to multiple departments throughout campus, including the Health Sciences Center. By bringing attention to their work, Drs. Duncan and Sobel hope that more opportunities will be forged for other research groups like theirs throughout campus.

A Call for Applications is now open to select the first recipient of this special award and applications are due on March 26, 2021. One PhD student will receive $10,000 and the chair of their dissertation committee will also receive a $5,000 research award. The selected applicant will also have the opportunity to present their research at the Team Research Symposium on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

For questions related to this award, please contact